Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Smokin’ big

Under the bun, a big patty, an avalanche of blue-cheese crumbles, and glistening tongues of bacon.

All meals come with a view of Japan
All meals come with a view of Japan
Place

Caroline's Seaside Cafe

8610 Kennel Way, San Diego

You feel a little awestruck just walking around here. This is Scripps, maybe the biggest concentration of brainpower west of Harvard Square. Everyone has to have a PhD to even get in the door, seems like. They practically own their own navy, half a dozen research ships, including the FLIP ship, the one that leaves port horizontal, then sinks one end and becomes a floating sonar buoy.

I’ve just been visiting my friend Fred. He can’t tell me what he does. Underwater stuff. Hush-hush. So, actually it was a pretty boring visit. I end up walking south along “Charles F. Kennel Way.” My aim: the #30 bus on La Jolla Shores Drive, to get me back downtown.

This is when El Niño kicks in. Rainstorm races in off the ocean. Pours down like on a movie set. I look around for shelter. All I see is this modern, steel-and-wood building with an auditorium, and up some stairs next door, bunch of people sitting at tables yakking away. And, eating? I leap up the stairs and head for shelter in the entrance. Now I see the sign: “Caroline’s Café.”

You get a shot of discipline before you can eat

I rush into the doorway. About to enter when I see another sign: “House Rules: Please do not sit until you and your party have ordered with a number. Please do not move patio furniture. Shirt/shoes required. No exceptions!”

Wow. Then there’s a second sign, on a sandwich board. “Please order first before taking a table. Tables are reserved for customers with an order # !”

And on and on. What is this, Scripps Institute or a Reform Institution for Wayward Oceanographers?

I drip into the counter area anyway. Actually, it’s light, bright, cool, Scandinavian, blond wood walls, white plastic tables and chairs.

Gal, Sarah, stands behind the counter. They have a specials board with items such as grilled chicken street tacos, quiche of the day with bacon and goat cheese, soup of the day, chicken-tortilla, garbanzo bean w/turkey. But no prices on them.

Sarah says forget the chicken-tortilla soup. The chef dropped the bowl this morning. Now they have a veggie-soup replacement. I ask for it anyway. To warm me up. Soup costs $6.95 (it comes with a bun). So by the time I have bought a coffee ($2.75 with refills), I’m already lighter by a Hamilton.

Not the cheapest, but this steaming hot veggie soup warms the cockles of my heart.

I check the regular menu. Looks, well, healthy. Breakfast has things like “Caroline’s parfait” (a mix of granola, berries, and yogurt, $6.25), Mediterranean egg scramble, with feta, “local” tomatoes, basil, for $7.95. Sides of fruit or breakfast potatoes plus toast are included.

Caroline's Seaside Cafe, with a view

Buttermilk pancakes cost $8.50. Four more bucks and you can add two eggs and two strips of bacon. Problem: breakfast ends at 11:30. And it’s gone one o’clock already. But they have plenty of lunch choices, like the curried chicken-almond salad sandwich. It goes for $9.25. Not cheap, but does sound kinda delicious.

They also have a raft of salads, at around $11. Most interesting-sounding: the fuyu persimmon and local ruby beet salad, with goat cheese and a sherry vinaigrette. Most expensive: pan-seared salmon salad with pineapple salsa, $14. Hope the students here have generous daddies.

This being a chilly day and me damp and shivering for the first time in a year, I like the sound of something hot and griddled. Lunch (which goes till 3 p.m.) features items such as the roasted butternut squash panini with cheddar and arugula ($10), tuna melt with caramelized onions ($9.95), and a chicken-pesto ciabatta ($9.50). Sign has good news: “Our meats and poultry are 100% hormone and antibiotic free.”

Hmm... Burger? The “basic” has caramelized onions with lettuce and toms. Costs $9. The “Seaside Café Burger” adds blue cheese and bacon, for $11. I go for it, even though, well, this is turning into an expensive little stopover. You do get organic green salad, house potato salad, or french fries with that. I go for the fries.

Plus another dose, in case you didn’t get it the first time...

When it comes, it does look massive. Sautéed onions slinking all over the tomatoes and lettuce, next to a mountain of thin fries. Under the bun, a smokin’ big patty, with an avalanche of blue-cheese crumbles, and three or four glistening tongues of bacon — good, thick strips, none of the crispy little shaved stuff you get in bargain-basement burgers.

All good, right?

Not quite. We have a problem — flavor. It just doesn’t seem to be there. The patty meat is boring, and I don’t get much kick from the bacon either, or even the blue cheese. I mean, it’s all fine, but it just doesn’t taste as interesting as it looks. Maybe I screwed around too long before I chomped in. Maybe when it was piping hot I would have got it at its best. Maybe ocean scientists just like their flavors mild. Because everybody else is polishing off their stuff, no probs.

Or is it just that the view of the ocean here is so fantastic that nobody notices the flavors? They say good views out restaurant windows can lead to so-so flavors on the plate. Not saying that’s the case here. The burger’s fine. Just that the flavors are underwhelming.

When I leave, the storm has headed inland and the sun’s bright, fresh light begs me to come out. Would I return? For sure, just for the chance to see clear to Japan on a day like this. Long as I can get past those bossy welcome signs.


The Place: Caroline’s Seaside Café, 8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, 858-202-0569

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. daily

Prices: Caroline’s breakfast parfait (granola, berries, yogurt), $6.25; Mediterranean egg scramble (feta, tomatoes, basil, with fruit or breakfast potatoes, toast), $7.95; buttermilk pancakes, $8.50 (for $4 extra, add two eggs, two bacon); vegetable soup, $6.95 (bowl), $4.95 (cup); curried chicken-almond salad sandwich, $9.25; fuyu persimmon and local ruby beet salad, $11; pan-seared salmon salad with pineapple salsa, $14; roasted butternut squash panini, $10; tuna melt, caramelized onions, $9.95; chicken-pesto ciabatta, $9.50; basic burger, $9; Seaside Café Burger (with blue cheese and bacon), $11

Bus: 30

Nearest bus stop: La Jolla Shores Drive at Paseo Grande

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Poppin’ Padres petition for permanent props in stands

The Crowd Goes Mild!
All meals come with a view of Japan
All meals come with a view of Japan
Place

Caroline's Seaside Cafe

8610 Kennel Way, San Diego

You feel a little awestruck just walking around here. This is Scripps, maybe the biggest concentration of brainpower west of Harvard Square. Everyone has to have a PhD to even get in the door, seems like. They practically own their own navy, half a dozen research ships, including the FLIP ship, the one that leaves port horizontal, then sinks one end and becomes a floating sonar buoy.

I’ve just been visiting my friend Fred. He can’t tell me what he does. Underwater stuff. Hush-hush. So, actually it was a pretty boring visit. I end up walking south along “Charles F. Kennel Way.” My aim: the #30 bus on La Jolla Shores Drive, to get me back downtown.

This is when El Niño kicks in. Rainstorm races in off the ocean. Pours down like on a movie set. I look around for shelter. All I see is this modern, steel-and-wood building with an auditorium, and up some stairs next door, bunch of people sitting at tables yakking away. And, eating? I leap up the stairs and head for shelter in the entrance. Now I see the sign: “Caroline’s Café.”

You get a shot of discipline before you can eat

I rush into the doorway. About to enter when I see another sign: “House Rules: Please do not sit until you and your party have ordered with a number. Please do not move patio furniture. Shirt/shoes required. No exceptions!”

Wow. Then there’s a second sign, on a sandwich board. “Please order first before taking a table. Tables are reserved for customers with an order # !”

And on and on. What is this, Scripps Institute or a Reform Institution for Wayward Oceanographers?

I drip into the counter area anyway. Actually, it’s light, bright, cool, Scandinavian, blond wood walls, white plastic tables and chairs.

Gal, Sarah, stands behind the counter. They have a specials board with items such as grilled chicken street tacos, quiche of the day with bacon and goat cheese, soup of the day, chicken-tortilla, garbanzo bean w/turkey. But no prices on them.

Sarah says forget the chicken-tortilla soup. The chef dropped the bowl this morning. Now they have a veggie-soup replacement. I ask for it anyway. To warm me up. Soup costs $6.95 (it comes with a bun). So by the time I have bought a coffee ($2.75 with refills), I’m already lighter by a Hamilton.

Not the cheapest, but this steaming hot veggie soup warms the cockles of my heart.

I check the regular menu. Looks, well, healthy. Breakfast has things like “Caroline’s parfait” (a mix of granola, berries, and yogurt, $6.25), Mediterranean egg scramble, with feta, “local” tomatoes, basil, for $7.95. Sides of fruit or breakfast potatoes plus toast are included.

Caroline's Seaside Cafe, with a view

Buttermilk pancakes cost $8.50. Four more bucks and you can add two eggs and two strips of bacon. Problem: breakfast ends at 11:30. And it’s gone one o’clock already. But they have plenty of lunch choices, like the curried chicken-almond salad sandwich. It goes for $9.25. Not cheap, but does sound kinda delicious.

They also have a raft of salads, at around $11. Most interesting-sounding: the fuyu persimmon and local ruby beet salad, with goat cheese and a sherry vinaigrette. Most expensive: pan-seared salmon salad with pineapple salsa, $14. Hope the students here have generous daddies.

This being a chilly day and me damp and shivering for the first time in a year, I like the sound of something hot and griddled. Lunch (which goes till 3 p.m.) features items such as the roasted butternut squash panini with cheddar and arugula ($10), tuna melt with caramelized onions ($9.95), and a chicken-pesto ciabatta ($9.50). Sign has good news: “Our meats and poultry are 100% hormone and antibiotic free.”

Hmm... Burger? The “basic” has caramelized onions with lettuce and toms. Costs $9. The “Seaside Café Burger” adds blue cheese and bacon, for $11. I go for it, even though, well, this is turning into an expensive little stopover. You do get organic green salad, house potato salad, or french fries with that. I go for the fries.

Plus another dose, in case you didn’t get it the first time...

When it comes, it does look massive. Sautéed onions slinking all over the tomatoes and lettuce, next to a mountain of thin fries. Under the bun, a smokin’ big patty, with an avalanche of blue-cheese crumbles, and three or four glistening tongues of bacon — good, thick strips, none of the crispy little shaved stuff you get in bargain-basement burgers.

All good, right?

Not quite. We have a problem — flavor. It just doesn’t seem to be there. The patty meat is boring, and I don’t get much kick from the bacon either, or even the blue cheese. I mean, it’s all fine, but it just doesn’t taste as interesting as it looks. Maybe I screwed around too long before I chomped in. Maybe when it was piping hot I would have got it at its best. Maybe ocean scientists just like their flavors mild. Because everybody else is polishing off their stuff, no probs.

Or is it just that the view of the ocean here is so fantastic that nobody notices the flavors? They say good views out restaurant windows can lead to so-so flavors on the plate. Not saying that’s the case here. The burger’s fine. Just that the flavors are underwhelming.

When I leave, the storm has headed inland and the sun’s bright, fresh light begs me to come out. Would I return? For sure, just for the chance to see clear to Japan on a day like this. Long as I can get past those bossy welcome signs.


The Place: Caroline’s Seaside Café, 8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, 858-202-0569

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. daily

Prices: Caroline’s breakfast parfait (granola, berries, yogurt), $6.25; Mediterranean egg scramble (feta, tomatoes, basil, with fruit or breakfast potatoes, toast), $7.95; buttermilk pancakes, $8.50 (for $4 extra, add two eggs, two bacon); vegetable soup, $6.95 (bowl), $4.95 (cup); curried chicken-almond salad sandwich, $9.25; fuyu persimmon and local ruby beet salad, $11; pan-seared salmon salad with pineapple salsa, $14; roasted butternut squash panini, $10; tuna melt, caramelized onions, $9.95; chicken-pesto ciabatta, $9.50; basic burger, $9; Seaside Café Burger (with blue cheese and bacon), $11

Bus: 30

Nearest bus stop: La Jolla Shores Drive at Paseo Grande

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Dennis Caco's Mission Valley missing Midori

Max Boost creator finds car near Sweetwater Road
Next Article

Thai Joints rule in the Heights

Pick up or delivery, Thai fans have it good on Adams Avenue
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close